Are you the same online as off? What about that teen of yours?
Sitting with a group of teens and having a discussion is something I have always loved to do. Teens are smart, sassy at times, challenging and if you let them feel safe they will be unbelievably honest and vulnerable.
I was shocked recently by a group. I assumed they would start flirting online. They told me if they were serious and really liked a person it was always better to start flirting in person. I was thrilled they understood this but was taken back by their reason.
"I am a different person online in chats than off. If I really like a guy I don't even know if I want him to see my online chats right away."
Remember they were talking about if they really liked someone.
Swearing, vulgarity, rudeness and a completely different persona are how some teens will portray themselves in chats and they will admit this to you readily.
Another teen in the group talked about the curated posts and pictures and how they are a different person online in pictures as well. I found their clarity on the subject scary and refreshing. Especially seeing as I know some kids with ridiculous chat names. One of the worst I've seen from a bright, intelligent, studious girl was suckdick456. What was she trying to prove by naming herself this?
A mother I follow on Instagram posts shocking things all the time. I know this woman only from her posts. I really hope she is a different person offline. I can't imagine she is so crude, rude or tacky non-stop when I look at her profession.
I am guilty of curating posts...we all are. I am a far cry from perfect and I ask myself all the time... Am I a different person online? I try to be the same but I also don't let my hair down. I am careful of what I like, how I comment and I post pictures. I am careful to stay correct in my chats and I keep it clean. I guess I am like my formal self or at least I try to be. How about you?
Your kids are watching you and they might just surprise you and tell you they think some of your pictures are cringy and the kids might be horrified by what you post.
Just as you critique their online presence you should be analyzing your own presence. Talk to them about this and open up. I think you can learn from them as well. And parents of preschoolers and primary students; you are setting up the teen years... do this with care and be a great online example!
–Allison Ochs, Social Worker M.S.W., Expat, Mother of three, Wife